~ Part 1C (Interjection from Two Holy Ones) ~
13 Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to the one who spoke, “For how long is the vision concerning the regular burnt offering, the transgression that makes desolate, and the giving over of the sanctuary and host to be trampled underfoot?”
14 And he said to me [“to him” in some translations], “For 2,300 evenings and mornings. Then the sanctuary shall be restored to its rightful state.”
For Daniel it would have been disturbing to see what looked like a fearful vision of Israel’s invasion by a ruler who would “trample” on the faithful followers of God and bring religious services to a halt and “cast down… the sanctuary”. Daniel’s unspoken concerns are addressed in the discussion recorded here in verses 13 and 14. Knowing how he felt, it seems the Lord allowed Daniel to overhear a conversation between two spirit beings – a conversation that was made for his benefit.
The participation of these spirit beings (and Gabriel) is an interesting example, by the way, of how the Lord likes to do things; that is, He doesn’t do everything but likes to use his angels and spirit beings in the task of conveying the knowledge of His plan and messages into the earthly realm.
So by this means, Daniel is given the reassurance that the troubles his people would have to endure would not last for too long. And a specific length of time is given: 2,300 days. (See Appendix 4 for discussion of the historical details regarding this particular time frame.)
For the Jewish people who did have to suffer through that time, they could hardly have failed to see Daniel’s words (verses 9-12) as applying to their predicament then. In fact, the message about the 2,300 days may well have been the very divine means used to carry the faithful through those hard times. It would have been a great comfort to know this information.
There is another possibility about these 2,300 evenings and mornings, that they might refer to events to come at the End of the Age in the final seven years of history. (How this might work is explained in Appendix 4.)
At this point it helps to remember that the vision is being described by two different beings – Daniel and Gabriel. And they have different emphases. Gabriel’s version explains the ultimate fulfilment of the vision. But at this point in the revelation, it is Daniel’s viewpoint that is being considered. And the message of the two “holy ones” is directed to Daniel with the purpose, it seems, of allaying the concerns he may have felt regarding the difficulties that were going to confront the Jewish people.
In our personal lives, we have immediate concerns that are important. But these should not override what God knows may be more important. So, at this point the “holy ones” are addressing Daniel’s immediate concerns. Then later, Gabriel enters the picture to provide the long-distance understanding of what the vision is portraying.
In our own personal prayer lives, we often experience something similar. We have immediate concerns and God answers our petitions for them. But sometimes those answers (for what we think is important) may take longer than we expect or end up with different answers to what we would expect. That is because God has the more comprehensive view and knows what, ultimately, is the best solution for our situation. Similarly, here in this revelation the ultimate fulfillment of it was to come, not in the near future (to the Israelites), but in a far distant future at the End of the Age.
Many of the posts on this website have been dedicated to re-vamping our understanding of several prophetic passages, many of which are limited to the cultural mindsets of yesteryear and so have been relegated to having been fulfilled in the ancient past. But many of these prophetic passages from the Book of Daniel can and should be understood as future, having their ultimate and complete fulfilments in that era known as the End of the Age, shortly before the Return of Christ.
However, in this particular passage about the 2,300 days, it may be better to agree with what most scholars think, and that is to leave it in the past. And it seems to fit well into the events of what happened during the Seleucid oppression over Israel in ancient times.
This time of tribulation that the Jewish people went through during the regime of Antiochus Epiphanes serves as a sort of springboard into the future and final historical era known as the Great Tribulation. Again, as for the Jewish people of old, for the followers of Christ at the End of the Age, there will arise a time of great persecution. And as the Jewish people were comforted to know the length of time, so for those who are going through that future time, they will be comforted to know that their tribulation will last a specific number of days.
The Scriptures clearly specify that at the End of the Age that period will last “for a time, times, and half a time”. (Daniel 7:25, 12:7, Revelation 12:14) Other passages in the Book of Revelation explain that this time span (based on the ancient Jewish year of 360 days) is exactly “42 months” or “1,260 days” (Revelation 11:2-3, 12:6, 13:5). (See this post, “The End of the End” for more specific information.) Chapter 12 in the Book of Daniel offers a couple more time spans of 1,290 days and 1,335 days. (12:11-12) These sound like they could be meant as encouragements for those groups who do not experience the initial deliverance at the end of the 1,260 days. Their deliverance does come, as these additional time spans seem to indicate – at a slightly later date, but maybe not as soon as they might have wished.
Interestingly, the passage in chapter 12 about the length of persecution at the End of the Age follows a similar format: two spirit beings engage in a conversation, overheard by Daniel and spoken for his benefit – similar to the conversation of the “holy ones” in this revelation of chapter 8. If both dialogues in chapters 8 and 12 follow a similar pattern, then likely, both are dealing with the same subject: the time duration of persecution.
But where the two messages differ is in the nature of the temple desecration and the length of their time spans. In Daniel 8 the 2,300 days begins when “the transgression that makes desolate” appears, whereas in chapter 12 the time periods – “time, times, and half a time… 1,290 days… 1,335 days” – begin with the invasion of an “abomination that makes desolate”. (8:13, 12:7,11-12) For several reasons we may understand this as a cryptic reference to a modern style of desolating abomination. (This is a big subject, by the way, which is explored in the series of posts Unravelling the Mystery of the Abomination.)
As for the differing lengths of their time spans, the reason for this seems straightforward enough: because the events happen in different historical situations – one ancient and one in the soon-coming future, that cancels out the likelihood that their time spans should be the same.
In chapter 8 the “holy ones” were discussing events to come in ancient Israel. And thus, the abomination (a swine) that Antiochus Epiphanes introduced was different in character to what is to come in the End of the Age era. And the term used is also different. “Transgression that makes desolate” has a more general sense to it. It may refer to the sins of the Jewish people of that time, or it may refer to the sins of Antiochus Epiphanes. In any case, it was the sins of the Jewish people that opened the way for Antiochus Epiphanes to rise and commit his sins of desecration and devastation. And also, because the term is not too specific, it could be applied to the appearance of both abominations, ancient and modern.
Further ahead (in chapters 9 and 11), we learn that the same pattern, noted in chapter 8, will repeat itself in our modern day. As in the ancient time, there will be a stripping away of the former religious trappings. When the desolating abomination enters the Jewish temple, “he [the Antichrist] shall put an end to sacrifice and offering”. (9:27, 11:31) Because of the sins of Christian peoples in western nations and of Jewish people in Israel, the Antichrist forces will be permitted to rise up as God’s instrument of chastisement. But the term used here – “abomination that makes desolate” – is more specific. This is a big subject and, as mentioned already, is covered in the series of posts, Unravelling the Mystery of the Abomination.
And, in another repeat of history, those forces will go too far, get over-confident, and commit their sins of destroying “mighty men and the people who are the saints”. (8:24)
Continue to: Part 2A – Gabriel Appears
APPENDIX 4: For 2,300 evenings and mornings. Then the sanctuary shall be restored to its rightful state (8:14)
It seems that, even though the temple was cleansed at one point shortly before the death of Antiochus Epiphanes, the persecution – “the giving over of the sanctuary and host to be trampled underfoot” (8:13) – carried on for about another 3 years and did not stop until the Maccabee brothers won the decisive Battle of Adasa. The Syrian commander and governor of Judea, Nicanor, was so angered by the Maccabees’ rebellion that he threatened to destroy the temple and build another one to the Greek god Dionysus. The battle that followed was remarkable with the Jewish forces lined up against a powerful Syrian army and their elephants. This was such a great victory that Jewish cultural life celebrated Nicanor Day for many years afterwards.
Judas Maccabeus before the Army of Nicanor (1 Macc. 7:26-32) by Gustave Doré (1832–1883)
It appears then that the 2,300 days was meant to stretch beyond the restoration of the daily sacrifices, and didn’t finish until the end of the persecution and other threats and dangers, which included activities of the traitorous high priest Alcimus who was bent on promoting Hellenism and persecuting loyal Jews and true believers in God. This “trampling underfoot” persisted until the Battle of Adasa.
It should be noted that the starting point for the 2,300 days came when Antiochus Epiphanes erected his altar to Jupiter in the temple and sacrificed a pig on it – a huge abomination to the Jewish people. As we telescope from these ancient events and time span, we envision the parallel event to happen in the End of the Age. Then a modern-style “abomination that makes desolate” shall enter the Jewish temple, and like the ancient abomination, it will act as the flash point, the start of the time spans of persecution against the modern-day people of God: “time, times, and half a time (1,260 days)” and the “1,290 days” and the “1,335 days”. (12:11-12)
Below is a chart adapted from Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary’s version (1871) of a timeline prepared by Leonhard Bertholdt (1774-1822):
Although the above time span seems to fit the historical details fairly accurately, there are a couple other theories worth mentioning: 1) The 2,300 days could have ended with the re-capture of the temple – an event celebrated even today among Jewish people in their Hanukah festival. The main difficulty: there is no definite date to mark the beginning of the 2,300 days. 2) The 2,300 days might fit into the End of the Age era of history. Add 220 days to 2,300, and you get 2,520 days, or 7 Jewish years, the last 7 years prior to the Return of Christ. The 220 days would be the time needed for the construction of the Jewish temple that the Antichrist will desecrate in the middle of the 7 years.
(The mystery of these last 7 years was part of a prophetic message given to Daniel about 10 years after this one about the 2,300 days. The series of posts Daniel 9: Second Coming, When? attempt to explain the meaning of this next revelation.)